A resident at Mustang Creek Estates of Keller is harnessing the power of the sun to create art. March marks the beginning of spring, and Jerome Fuhrmann is looking forward to long days of sunshine, which is the key to his passion. For the past nine years, this 74-year-old has created more than 1,000 cherished pieces of art with just a magnifying glass and a bright sunny day. Known as pyrography, or woodburning, the tradition dates back to the 17th century.
Fuhrmann even credits his art with giving his life purpose. In November 2009, he suffered a stroke. With his left side often numb, he turned to woodburning to pass the time. At first, doctors told him he wouldn’t walk or talk again, but he proved them wrong. Today, he continues to drive and make his art, although he’s found it easier to use a wheelchair over the past year.
“It really saved my life. It gave me something to do instead of just sitting there,” said Fuhrmann. “I’m 74, but I don’t feel it because I stay so active,” said Fuhrmann.
For decades, this Vietnam War Veteran worked on farms and ranches in North Texas, often taking care of cattle and welding. He couldn’t imagine not working with his hands, so even without formal training, woodburning came naturally. Fuhrmann always saw himself as artistic, but he became an artist when he picked up a magnifying glass.
While others use a heated metallic point pen for woodburning, Fuhrmann prefers the magnifying glass he picked up 30 years ago at a flea market. He sketches out his designs freehand, not using any stencils. After that, it’s all about the angle he holds the magnifying glass to the wood. And he says to beware, it can burn if you’re not careful. His other two tips: wear protective eyewear and use soft wood like cedar or pine.
Nine months ago, Fuhrmann moved to Mustang Creek Estates of Keller. Living at the community allows him to remain independent and have peace of mind knowing that a caring staff is nearby. He’s also not far from his niece who lives nearby. His art became an instant hit among residents.
“It’s clear moving to an assisted-living community is not slowing this working artist down. His attitude is an inspiration to all our residents,” said Candy Jiwa, acting executive director at Mustang Creek Estates of Keller. “Jerome didn’t start woodburning until his 60s, and it’s a reminder to all of us at Mustang Creek Estates of Keller that you can always learn something new.”
On a sunny day, you can often find people gathered around Fuhrmann’s home at Mustang Creek. He’s also very generous with his craft, often taking requests and making things for fellow neighbors.
“It’s amazing how Jerome can bring together our community. If the sun is out, Jerome is likely out too, working away on a project,” said Jiwa.
Over the past nine years, Fuhrmann’s art has been commissioned by Texans, sold by art dealers and often donated to local churches in North Texas. One of his proudest projects was making wooden signs for the State Champion Muenster High Hornets in 2017. That year the students took state in basketball, baseball and football. Today you can find some of Fuhrmann’s pieces at a gift shop in Argyle, Texas, called The Gypsy Caravan.
“I love sharing what I do with others. It’s even better when young people come to Mustang Creek. They’re always fascinated with what’s happening when I’m creating my art,” said Fuhrmann.
Mustang Creek Estates – whose mission is to provide seniors with high-quality residential-style assisted living and memory care at an affordable price – has additional locations in Allen, Burleson, Frisco and Sachse.